The invisible spotlight: why managers can’t hide

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

No matter what management role you play in the waste industry, you can be certain of one thing: Your employees talk about you at dinner. The meal is placed on the table, and your employee's significant other asks the fateful question, 'How was work today, dear?' The next words are about you. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Either way, they're about you:

  • 'It was great today; my boss was out at a conference.'
  • 'It was really aggravating; the boss was at an all-day meeting and left no one in charge.'
  • 'It was aggravating; she was at a training class and left Larry in charge.'
  • 'Excellent day; I finished the recycling review ahead of schedule, and my boss was all over me with gratitude.'

As a manager, you work in the constant glare of an 'invisible spotlight.' When you come, where you go and what you do in between are of the utmost importance to your employees. Yet, the most frequent and fundamental mistake managers make is to underestimate their impact. Managers invariably fail to recognize the influence they exert over their employees' lives. They fail to recognize how vital their management relationships are.

It all boils down to an inescapable truth: If the foundation of the management relationship is solid, it's because the manager is doing something right. If the foundation falters or fails, it is because the manager is doing something wrong. It's that simple and that difficult. Two principles are at the heart of your management relationships. Become aware of them, adhere to them and you'll join the ranks of the most successful and respected managers in the industry.

Principle #1: The Burden of the Management Relationship is Yours
Think about the balance of responsibility in a healthy manager-employee relationship. Would you say it's 50/50, with each of you contributing equally to the relationship's success? How about 60/40, with one or the other assuming a greater load?

Too many managers, new and seasoned, step into their role assuming the relationship is a 50/50 affair, and this begins their slide into ineffectiveness. Their problem is that they want to apply the ideals of equality and shared responsibility. They act as if they're still employees or colleagues. But while these ideals are important to the longevity of most relationships, they just don't apply to the professional management of employees. The management relationship is not like most others. It's unique because of the obligations that accompany it and the fact that it exists within an organizational hierarchy.

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